Friday, February 20, 2009

Hometown Hero

I make a very concerted effort to stay away from political topics (aside from housing, which has become very political in the last couple years). But I will tiptoe into that territory today, as I want to acknowledge my hometown representative Abel Maldonado. Santa Maria rarely takes the national stage (save the Michael Jackson trial). So I was very pleased to see that he helped get us out of our ridiculous budget stalemate, and also delighted to see his proposal for open primaries, which should foster less extreme candidates, and hopefully lead to fewer ideological standoffs.

I have been disgusted and appalled at the behavior on both sides. It is the one primary responsibility of make sure the State has can pay its bills. If they pass some laws, that is gravy. By stalling the budget, and related measures, many costs increase for the state, wasting more money. Interest is owed on contracts, overtime is paid for employees who take a day off on furlough day, then work over the weekend, etc. For example, Mr. BT is now subject to the furloughs, so he has to cut back his work to 40 hours (from 55-60) in order to drop 8 every other Friday. This will slow down his contract progress considerably, and will end up costing the state more $$.

Personally I do not believe that government workers should be unionized (save perhaps teachers). For example federal air traffic controllers make mid six figure salaries, with only a high school education, and get full retirement at a very young age. I was glad to see our governor try to trim back on state worker benefits (fewer holidays). Few in the private sector enjoy such job security and nice benefits.

The stalemate between the Dems and Reps was absolutely embarrassing and unnecessary. In a normal household, when times are tough, people look for additional revenue (take on second jobs), and cut back on expenses. With the Reps not wanting to raise taxes, stalling the budget, people lose jobs and revenue (reducing revenue further). If I had to guess, most would rather have a job, and pay a little more taxes. With the Dems not wanting to cut services, stalling the budget, people lose jobs, thus adding to the rolls of those who need services.

So this is my long winded way, of saying, thank goodness this is over.....for now.

(In other news...our local BofA was robbed on Tuesday, the suspect looks a lot like my old Sac roommate who used to chip cable boxes).


Jacob said...

Raising taxes is fine to a point. But we can't just keep raising taxes.

And I am not sure how much the vehicle registration fee being doubled will help. How many people that were planning to buy a new car will hold off given the doubled fee? The state will then lose the regular fee they would have gotten as well as the sales tax.

If sales go down by x% then the state will actually come out behind by raising the fee. I wonder if that was considered in the calculations?

patient renter said...

With the Reps not wanting to raise taxes, stalling the budget, people lose jobs and revenue (reducing revenue further).

That the state is slowed to a freeze due to a budget is unfortunate, but the Repubs are no more at fault for holding things up than the Dems. While the blocking point for the Repubs was clear (no new taxes) there were many blocking points for the Dems that were just as firm.

If I had to guess, most would rather have a job, and pay a little more taxes.

If maintaining jobs was as simple as taxing everything, we'd all just work for the government and receive no pay. Not ideal.

Unfortunately it's not as simple as choosing between keeping a job and paying a little more taxes. Many people get to lose their jobs AND pay higher taxes. My family is one of them. To us, the budget is a slap in the face, not a savior.

Bryan said...

I think we've gone from TWO things being certain, to ONE thing being certain: Death by Taxes.

It was a marvellous stand off and all, grand in scope, dire in prospect. But you know, the sun shone the same, the wind felt the same, the freeway was still there, the little ant-sized people I can see out my window crawling up and down 9th Street kept at it same as before. The parking lots filled up in the morning and emptied at night. The homeless guys are Cesar Chavez park plied their usual trade (the crazy-yeller guy kept on crazy-yellin'). My elevator seemed to zip along at the same speed. I see all the same faces.

I know I'm criminally ignoring effects hidden from direct sight, but it's less for the sake of rhetoric or urban pastoral quasi-rhapsodizing (it's hard to describe what I was doing, ok!), than to point out that for a lot of us--at least for the foreseeable future--life went on and goes on despite the monumental machinations, incriminations, etc going on at the legislature, and despite the furloughs and the cutbacks, and pay cuts, and the layoffs. That's how it FELT.

If it's not sinking in too deep for me, I suspect I'm not alone.

sacramentia said...

"also delighted to see his proposal for open primaries, which should foster less extreme candidates"

Me too. Between this and redistricting, I hope we will get some candidates that represent the majority of the people in a few years. If this state keeps going the same way my family and I are going to start looking for a different one.

PeonInChief said...

Air traffic controllers get the benefits they do not because of unions, but because of government action. You will remember that the air traffic controllers union was broken when Reagan fired the striking controllers in 1981. As it turned out, the demands that they were making--shorter work weeks, earlier retirement etc.--turned out to be good policy and, after a few near misses, the FAA adopted many of the union demands long after the union was destroyed.

JOATMON said...

A little more in taxes? The state needs to change its name to Taxifornia. Marginal income tax rate of 9.3% at the national median level, 1% surcharge for million-dollar earners, 7+% sales tax after local rates are added in, 1.1% property tax on transaction price (with some of the highest priced real estate in the nation). When does it end? How can a state that collects so much money from so many sources be 42,000,000,000 DOLLARS in the hole? Did Sacramento get bamboozled into funding 140 Bridges to Nowhere in Alaska?

Add that onto the 12.5% for FICA, 3% for Medicare, Federal Income, and its a wonder that anyone in Taxifornia can buy a soda - but at least they would have the opportunity to get the CA CRV refund back on the container!

Jacob said...

Don't forget all the non-tax fees you get to pay for everything.

And if you have self employment income you get to pay 15.4% off the top, then 28% fed then 9.3% state, then 7-8% on anything you buy...

The state needs to look at the spending side of the equation not the revenue side.

Buying Time said...

I try to keep things in perspective. We have one of the lowest tax rates among industrialized nations. At the same time, we don't enjoy many of the benefits those countries offer (universal health care, maternity leave, vacation etc.).